Weekly Wire
NewCityNet Breaking the Vows

By Ray Pride

JUNE 19, 2000:  Even when it's released around October, I won't be able to talk about my favorite scene in Lars von Trier's Cannes Palme d'Or-winning "Dancer in the Dark": the entire point of the movie comes round after the final shot, and well, I guess it's too early to talk about that. There are brilliant, soaring moments and Bjork has her virtues.

But I suppose I can mention that the Danish director behind the Dogme '95 movement--his given name is Lars Trier, so I'm going to start calling him Trier--is more than a little bit of a prankster. Running this month on the Independent Film Channel, Richard Kelly's "The Name of This Film is Dogme '95," is a playful documentary on the esthetic differences between the six features that have followed the strictures of Trier's gag of a creed. (Mostly, it involves shooting in natural light with handheld cameras, eschewing genre stories, and often using video to facilitate the restrictions.)

An editor at UK publishing house Faber & Faber, Kelly first interviews the man who once described himself as " a simple masturbator of cinema." While the dimply, unshaven, gruff-voiced Trier amuses, Thomas Vinterberg, whose "Celebration" (Festen) was the greatest Dogme '95 success, both financially and esthetically, turns out to be prettier than most actors, with male model hair flopping about as much as his barrage of knowing wisecracks and insights.

Anthony Dod Mantle, who shot three of the first six Dogme films, including Harmony Korine's "julien donkey-boy," is another lively storyteller, talking about how he was liberated by the palm-sized "prosumer" Sony PC-7, saying "I held it in my hand, it sat in my hand, I felt, wow, this is a weapon, y'know."

A good chunk of the documentary is devoted to visual citations from "Celebration," with accompanying explanations, and it's as valuable on the urges of filmmaking as the constraints of the jokey code. While Korine's appearance--cig in hand, unshaven, firmly contentious--amuses, Trier's longtime producing partner Peter Aalbaek Jensen is hilarious, describing the love and hate he and Trier hold for each other--go for a drink after work with Lars? What a horror that would be! Not a single person on screen seems to take anything seriously--except their work.

"Dogme '95" shows on the Independent Film Channel several times through the end of June.


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